why do the referees add so much additional time?

The assistant referee shows 8 minutes of added time, during the Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium, Qatar on Tuesday (November 22nd).

Since the start of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the question has come up like a catchphrase. But why do the referees add so much added time? The match between England and Iran, Monday, November 21, is the most convincing example: the players will have spent more than 117 minutes on the lawn of the international stadium of Khalifa, in Al-Rayyan. Nearly 30 minutes more than the 90 regulations. Admittedly, there was this K.-O. inflicted on the goalkeeper of Team e-MelliAlireza Beiranvand, by his teammate Majid Hosseini at the 9e minute, not enough to explain the 14 minutes “rebate” at the end of the second period.

A glance at the other meetings of this second day is enough to show that the trend is general. The Senegal-Netherlands match had only three bonus minutes before half-time, but ended at the 90e+11, allowing Davy Klaassen to increase the score for the Oranje. A few hours later, the final whistle of USA-Wales was given at the 90e+10 – after four minutes added before the break. Already the day before, even the very insipid meeting between the host country and Ecuador will have been credited with 12 minutes of added time in total.

“Avoid matches at 42, 43, 44 minutes of effective time”

Surprising? Not really. Two days before the start of the competition, Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the referees committee of the International Football Federation (FIFA), warned at a press conference: “We want to avoid games with 42, 43, 44 minutes of effective time. So the times of substitutions, penalties, celebrations, medical treatment or, of course, VAR [l’assistance vidéo à l’arbitrage], will have to be compensated. »

“What do we count in a stoppage of play? When the ball is out, when it is put back into touch… But there are sometimes hesitations “, summarizes Loïc Ravenel, scientific collaborator for the International Center for Sports Studies (CIES), in Neuchâtel (Switzerland). In February, a study by the Football Observatory, a research group attached to this structure, pointed out that the average effective playing time in 36 professional football leagues was slightly over 59 minutes. “In football, there are a lot of moments when play is stopped, develops the university. We noticed that the additional time was always less than the game time abandoned. »

Just before the start of the World Cup, in the “Gab and Juls Meet” podcast, hosted on the American sports channel ESPNPierluigi Collina had come back at length to this problem, a real “pet peeve” of the former international referee. ” In Russia [lors de la Coupe du monde 2 018]we tried to be more precise in compensating for lost time during matches and that’s why you saw six, seven or even eight minutes added”, he recalls. And develop: “Think about it: if you have three goals in one half, you will probably lose four or five minutes in total for the celebrations and the restart. »

Most time-consuming ball outings

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), which sets and develops the rules of the game in football, concedes that timing is one area where the discipline can improve. “Right now games are on average 54 minutes with the ball in play, but there are huge differences in some games, so we want to see how to standardize that and make sure there’s no possibility waste of time”explained Mark Bullingham, chief executive of the English Football Federation and member of the board of directors of the IFAB, during the body’s annual congress in June.

Especially since other recent developments in arbitration have made matters worse. “If we look at full time, ball outs are the cause of the greatest number of stoppages in total: between the sideline, the throw-in, etc.explains Loïc Ravenel. But the question of VAR or the five authorized changes [mesure adoptée lors de la pandémie de Covid-19 en mai 2020] also multiply the wasted time. » In Qatar, the fourth official referees are responsible for making this calculation, supported by one of the members of the VAR team for match interruptions related to video reviews. “With added time of 15 minutes, we are getting closer to real playing time”, says the academic. Before insisting, however: “Football is not basketball. It was never said that you had to play 90 minutes of effective playing time. »

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